The Company of Preachers: Wisdom on Preaching, Augustine to the Present

Lischer, Richard, ed.

Eerdmans, 2002

p. 278

This is Augustine in On Christian Doctrine, distinguishing “those,” i.e., the pagan sophists, from “these,” i.e., Christians who use rhetoric in the service of the gospel: “Rhetoric, after all, being the art of persuading people to accept something, whether it is true or false, would anyone dare to maintain that truth should stand there without any weapons in the hands of its defenders against falsehood; that “those” speakers who are trying, that is to say, who are trying to convince their hearers of what is untrue, should know how to get them on their side, to gain their attention and have them eating out of their hands by their opening remarks, while “these” who are defending the truth should not? That “those” should utter their lies briefly, clearly, plausibly, and that “these” should state their truths in a manner too boring to listen to, too obscure to understand, and finally too repellent to believe? That “those” should attack the truth with specious arguments, and assert falsehoods, while “these” should be incapable of either defending the truth or refuting falsehood? That “those,” to move and force the minds of their hearers into error, should be able by their style to terrify them, move them to tears, make them laugh, give them rousing encouragement, while “these” on behalf of truth stumble along slow, cold and half asleep? Could anyone be so silly as to suppose such a thing?”